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“I have no choice” – Jagdeo on submitting third GECOM list

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By: Devina Samaroo

Though he completely disagrees with the rejection of the second list of nominees for the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo conceded that he will have no choice but to make another submission should the President, David Granger make the request.

The two are expected to meet next Monday (June 12, 2017) at State House to discuss the way forward and Jagdeo has already anticipated that there will be either of three outcomes.

He told reporters during a press conference on today (June 8, 2017) that the Head of State can either ask that a third list of candidates be submitted, insist to unilaterally make the appointment, or pledge to work together to appoint someone who is impartial to govern the elections body.

Jagdeo said he presently has no position which he will take during the meeting however he noted that he will consult with the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) ahead of the discussion with the President.

Regarding the submission of a third list however, the Opposition Leader noted that the search will be challenging and he committed to communicating this to the Head of State.

Jagdeo had previously noted that the pool of qualified persons gets smaller with each rejection and that the remaining suitable individuals may be fearful of accepting the nomination given the likelihood of their credibility will be ridiculed by the President.

Nonetheless, Jagdeo said he will have no choice to submit a third list as it is stipulated in the Constitution.

Jagdeo also noted that if the outcome of the upcoming paves the way for him and the President to work together, he will then have to take it under advisement.

“I would have to take it under advisement discuss it with other people in the civil society and the PPP and to ensure first of all that whatever is proposed is not unconstitutional and that it will not violate the delicate balance that exist in the Carter Center formula,” he stated.

Court Case

Meanwhile, Jagdeo said he cannot put the matter on hold pending the court ruling on the constitutionality of the President’s rejection of the first list of candidates.

“Even if there is a decision by the court, we may very well have an appeal from either side which is dissatisfied with the outcome so this will take a while before it finds its way up to the Caribbean Court of Justice, I don’t think we have that much time to wait on this matter,” he stated.

Businessman, Marcel Gaskin had filed the legal challenge, questioning the constitutional basis of the President’s rejection.

Businessman, Marcel Gaskin

Gaskin is the brother of the Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin – who is the son-in-law of the President.

The first list the President rejected included: Major General (retired) Norman Mc Lean, Attorney and Political Analyst, Mr. Christopher Ram, Former Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Mr. Ramesh Dookhoo, Peace and Governance Consultant, Mr. Lawrence Lachmansingh, Businesswoman, Ms. Rhyaan Shah and Professor Dr. James Rose.

The President then provided the Opposition Leader with a list of criteria for the second list. For the most part, the criteria stipulated that the individuals nominated must be qualified to be a Judge of the High Court or an Attorney for a minimum of seven years or any other “fit and proper person” who has a wide electoral knowledge and capable of handling electoral matters since he/she is qualified to exercise unlimited jurisdiction in civil matters.

In this regard, the second rejected list included: Justice of Appeal B.S. Roy (Retd); Justice William Ramlal (retd); Ms. Oneidge Walrond-Allicock, Attorney-at-law and a former Magistrate; Mr Kashir Khan, Attorney-at-law; Ms Nadia Sagar, Attorney-at-law and Mr. Gerald Gouveia, businessman.

In a statement to the media, the President explained that every member on the list to be to be deemed acceptable in his opinion.

“Every member of the list suggested must conform to the criteria and you cannot put on the list, a person who does not conform… I must be given a choice.  I don’t believe that the second list gave me the range of choice that the people of Guyana deserve,” he said.

Article 161 (2) of the Constitution, which governs the appointment of a GECOM Chairman, states, “… the Chairman of the Elections Commission shall be a person who holds or who has held office as a judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court or who is qualified to be appointed as any such judge, or any other fit and proper person…”

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